Dramatic openings and plot beginnings can be ripe with conflict – edgy, reactive.   Conflict is synonymous with plot; plot is the series of explosive conflicts that escalate, get resolved, then reignite.

“Conflict bulds character; crisis defines it.”

“Conflict shocks us out of sheep-like passivity and sets us at contriving.”

Conflict is inevitable; combat is optional.”

The first paragraph can be edgy and reactive.  It can take the reader into an explosive situation on any level to shock both the character and the reader out of passivity.


The logger in army fatigues had claimed a patch of virgin forest by the Mattagami River, north of Timmins, that had not been harvested, and had no signs of intruders wandering into his illegal operation.  It was on the third day, when he felled a virgin pine and started delimbing her, that his chainsaw exposed a body tied to a branch and crushed under its weight.  It was a girl.  He had hauled away the wood from the previous two days, but on that third day, he left the harvest and the girl, like a mangled, Andean condor, wings snapped and entwined in the graveyard of bark.   When he covered his tracks and was safely away, he sent an anonymous letter to the police in Timmins.

Like real life, conflict is inevitable in fiction, and combat is not an option – it is necessary in fiction to harvest plot and character.  In the excerpt above, the dramatic opening (the discovery of a dead body) begins the conflict and demands a war.